Asteroid named after founding scientist of FAST telescope

Asteroid named after founding scientist of FAST telescope

BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Rahnuma): An asteroid has been named after Nan Rendong, the founding scientist of China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), with approval from the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Asteroid Nanrendong, coded 79694, was discovered on Sept. 25, 1998, by astronomers with the Beijing Schmidt CCD Asteroid Program at the Xinglong observatory in northern China, according to a recent IAU communique.

An official with China’s National Astronomical Observatories read the communique at a ceremony Monday in southwest Guizhou Province.

A sculpture of Nan was unveiled at the ceremony to mark the naming.

FAST is the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. It was set up in 2016 on the same day as the asteroid was discovered 20 years ago.

Nan worked as the chief scientist in charge of the FAST site selection and construction from 1994. He aimed to build it as the largest super-sensitive “ear” on Earth to seek distant sounds in the universe and decode cosmic messages.

He devoted 22 years to the project and died of cancer in 2017 at the age of 72.

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